In early October, the Department of Energy (DOE) published a report examining different weaknesses in the nation’s current energy infrastructure system. The report focused specifically on energy sectors in relation to global climate change, and highlighted severe vulnerabilities for existing energy infrastructure. According to the study, climate change has already been responsible for severe, threatening weather patterns and even natural disasters.
The report categorizes the nation’s energy infrastructure by dividing the United States into nine regions, Northwest, Southwest, Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. The DOE report concludes that protecting and preserving the nation’s energy infrastructure from extreme weather brought on by climate change is no longer just a national issue, but a local issue as well. Equipping the current energy infrastructure must become a combined effort on a national, regional, and community level.
By segmenting the United States into regions, the report carefully examines which extreme weather conditions are predicted to plague specific areas. The report claims climate change will affect nearly all energy sectors such as oil and gas, electricity and the electric grid, hydropower, and bioenergy.
For example, the report points to an expected reduction of water supply in the Midwest, Great Plains, and Southern regions, placing the production of thermoelectric power generation at risk. Hydropower is energy derived from flowing water or the movement of water, such as dams, which are engineered to harvest hydropower. Snow pack levels in the West could also have an effect on hydropower production.
Additional claims made in the report include an increase in climate issues such as heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, and hurricanes that will affect the transportation of all fuel sources in every region of the U.S. In addition to this, the electric grid will be vulnerable to this extreme weather and their resulting consequences ranging from wildfires to storm surges.
Private sector energy companies are speaking out about how to address this issue amidst the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin. Included in the report is Con Edison’s $2 billion plan to strengthen its existing energy facilities over a four-year period as to protect its assets from mother nature. This points to the growing need for greater investments in safeguarding the nation’s energy infrastructure. Updating the electric grid and the energy transportation network will be essential to maintaining the efficiency and safety of the current system.
Climate change is a topic of uncertainty across the country, but one thing is for sure, preserving our nation’s energy infrastructure is crucial to ensuring a safe and reliable way to power our country into the future.